Key struggles to erase effects of 0-4 beginning

F. S.

September 25, 1994|By Bill Free | Bill Free,Sun Staff Writer

The Francis Scott Key field hockey team had everything before it stepped on the field for its first game against Fairfield (Pa.) High a little more than two weeks ago.

Talent, style, grace, closeness and a bright young coach in Mindi Wagner.

No wonder people all around the Baltimore area were ready to anoint the Eagles as the best of the best in Carroll County and one of the best in the metro area.

Seldom had any athletic team from the 1A school in Uniontown received so much preseason publicity.

But it took just 11 days and four games for the Eagles to come unglued.

Key lost its first four games and went spiraling downward in the metro Top 15 poll to 12th. It was a tribute to the team that it could lose its first four games and remain ranked.

Finally on Tuesday, it happened. The team that put together a sparkling 13-1-2 record and won the state Class 1A championship last season won its first game this year, defeating Liberty, 1-0.

"The monkey's off our back," said Wagner. "Things are a little better around here."

However, there are still a lot of problems facing Wagner as she tries to right her team in time to make the 1A playoffs.

Wagner has to figure out a way to take some pressure off high-scoring junior forward Stacey Greene, who is drawing hordes of attention every time she touches the ball. Greene said four players descended upon her in the Liberty game.

Wagner has to make sure that senior goalkeeper Missy Muller has completely recovered from a shoulder separation that occurred late last November while she was playing in a California tournament. Muller has not been moving around in the net like she did last season.

Wagner, in her third year at Key, has to fend off some unusual interference by parents.

"Our whole team has been under a lot of pressure," said Wagner. "There have been a lot of internal problems, with some parents thinking their daughters should be playing more and some other dirty laundry I'd rather not talk about right now."

The Eagles haven't been the luckiest team around.

They lost all four games by one goal, including a 2-1 overtime decision to North Carroll in a steady rain.

Returning All-County defender Laurie Ryer was ejected from the second Fairfield game (a 1-0 loss at Key) in the first 10 minutes when she was called for pushing her stick into an opponent.

Ryer was not only out the remainder of that game but missed the next game against Liberty.

Wagner said: "I was standing right in front of the play and Laurie got her stick hooked up with the Fairfield player's stick and pushed her [Ryer's] stick in to get unhooked. That's all she did. It was very sad, especially since one of the better officials [Linda Hodiak] made the call. She realized later she had made a bad call."

Also, the Key schedule wasn't the most conducive to helping the team get off to a good start. The Eagles had to play two of their first three games against Westminster and North Carroll, the top two teams they would have to face all season.

The other two losses came to a Fairfield team that Key had beaten twice last season. But the Adams County (Pa.) school is thought to have one of their better teams in recent years.

In an attempt to turn everything around for the Key field hockey team and put a charge in her players, Wagner said Thursday night: "I've told the players: 'This is a dictatorship, not a democracy.' "

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